Lansing, MI – Community organizing, social justice and labor groups have formed a committee to explore a ballot campaign to raise the minimum wage in Michigan. The minimum wage in Michigan –currently $7.40 an hour – hasn’t been raised since 2008, leaving many families living on wages that have not kept up with the price of goods and services. Tipped workers, like waiters and waitresses, have not received an increase in their minimum wage for over 22 years and currently earn only $2.65 an hour.
Shannon Bryson, 33, of Muskegon is a single mom with two kids, who works part time at a fast food chain and earns minimum wage. “By the time I pay for gas to get to and from work, there’s not much left of my pay check. Raising the minimum wage could do a lot for mothers like me. I see people evicted from their homes because they don’t earn enough to pay their rent, and during this cold, cold winter, I see children whose parents can’t afford to dress them warmly enough.”
Research continues to show strong support for raising the minimum wage both in Michigan and nationally including a majority of Democrats, Independents and Republicans (Hart research, July 2013).
Over the last year State Representatives Jon Switalski, of Warren, and Rashida Tlaib, of Detroit, and State Senator Bert Johnson, have introduced various bills to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour over three years while also raising the minimum wage for tipped employees and indexing the wage to inflation. Governor Snyder and various legislative leaders have indicated that they will not take up the bills this year. Last fall, Governor Snyder stated that raising the minimum wage was not a “significant issue” for his administration
“People who work hard, shouldn’t have to wait for out of touch politicians to act and do the right thing – and raise the minimum wage,” said Rebecca Hatley-Watkins, 23, of Kalamazoo, who is married, the mother of one and a Michigan United member. “If you work full-time you shouldn’t live in poverty.”
“It is impossible to raise a child on a job that pays minimum wage. I worked full time and still only brought home one third of the amount I needed to get a decent apartment. Not to mention childcare costs. Sometimes it feels like I am just working to pay someone else to raise my child,” said Cori Johnson, a 24 year-old mother of one in Detroit who is a member of Mothering Justice.
Members of the coalition will make a formal decision on moving forward with a ballot campaign in the next few weeks.
The coalition includes a diverse set of non-profit organizations including: the Center for Progressive Leadership, Michigan United, MOSES, the Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC) Michigan, Mothering Justice and Building Movement Project/ People’s Platform.
The coalition believes that if Lansing won’t act, voters across Michigan will.
Twelve states increased their minimum wage January 1st, 2014.
(Kalamazoo)-Michigan’s blustery winds and bone chilling temperatures is a reality that those without shelter face on a daily basis. Some of those people that are homeless are children. This past December, an undocumented immigrant new to Kalamazoo was turned away from shelter that had reached it’s capacity. This man died unnamed and unreported. Unfortunately, individuals and more families with children are falling under what is consider poverty levels in Kalamazoo County.
Occupy Kalamazoo stands in solidarity with National Gathering 2013 using the vigil to commemorate the passing of members of the human family by giving a moment of silence and individual sharing from participants involved with the vigil.
National Gathering 2013 and Occupy Kalamazoo are planning more activities around social injustices and the some of the unknown impacts it has on people and the community.
Today a candlelight vigil for the homeless will honor those who have passed away because of extreme exposure to Michigan winter weather or other underlying circumstances.
The vigil is organized by supporters of Occupy Kalamazoo and National Occupy Movement to raise awareness about the growing number of homeless people in Kalamazoo and around the country. These numbers includes families with school age children. The Occupy Movement will honor the passing of all those who have not been heard, whose basic human needs have not been met, and who have not found their own voices by devoting their second National Gathering to communication–“we will raise our individual, local, national and global voices”.
According to homeless statistics from most recent data, Housing Resources Inc., reports that in Michigan, 53 percent of the homeless population in Michigan consists of adults and children in families. 67 percent of the homeless families are headed by women,many of whom are young women with young children. Over 14,000, homeless children, infancy to 10 years old reside in Michigan. Children of families in transit, often face many obstacles that impair their academic progress.
This past December, undocumented and unaware, new and unknown to the area, a human being was turned away from shelter that had reached it’s capacity. This man died unnamed and unreported. His only mention other than some questions asked by staffe members at the shelter was a nameless obituary. National Gathering 2013 will use the vigil commemorate the passing of a member of our human family by naming the truth in their own voices, in their own way.
This event is open to the public. 6PM at Bronson Park,downtown Kalamazoo. 5PM Central, 4PM Mountain, 3PM Central.